The future of romance, now.
Nine years ago, if you were to tell me that most of my dates would come from the internet, I think I might’ve puked. Back then, I was entering high school and a little device known as the iPhone was unleashed upon the world. Steve Jobs vision of the future involved having the power to connect, beyond just phone calls and text messages, to people worldwide thanks to the internet. Coincidentally, at this time a company known as Facebook started growing in power and changed the way we communicated with people, new and old.
To quote a line from the movie, The Social Network,
“In a time where social connectivity was everything, Facebook was THE thing”
Online dating was still a cliche for people desperate to connect with another without stepping outside. It wasn’t until a little app known as Tinder came along and changed the dating scene.
The power of swiping left or right.
The idea of tinder isn’t anything new. There were plenty of apps that did the same thing. Hot or not, okCupid, Match.com, etc..
There were two things that separated Tinder from the competition.
The Marketing. When Tinder CEO, Sean Rad, first created the app, he needed to find a way to make the app “Cool”. Instead of making a TV advertisment that would look ridicously cringe worthy, like every other dating app commercial, he decided to instead target the group of people who had the power to influence what’s popular in pop culture: college students.
Sean went to his alma mater dorms and asked the students there to try out the app and see if they liked it. They did. But what happened next was what was more important. Just like Facebook before Tinder, students started sharing the app with other students from different campuses and eventually the app would become the most popular dating app on the planet. But why did college students accept this and reject every other dating website and app out there? I’m glad you asked.
The Ease of Use. Let me ask you something, how long did it take you to start actually matching with people when you made a dating account? If you were using any other online dating service other than Tinder: your answer was probably, “I gave up after 8 minutes”. If you were using Tinder: your answer was most likely, “no more than 5 minutes”.
The genius of Tinder involves around simply logging into your Facebook account and letting the app take care of the rest(mostly). Your profile picture, location and interests are all automatically transferred from Facebook so all you have to start doing is swiping away at other matches. Right swipe for like, left swipe for unlike. It couldn't be simpler.
Really think about the average college student: they’re usually thinking about their next project/paper due or even their upcoming exam to even remotely consider talking to the girl sitting right next to them. So in the little time they have, they choose to swipe left and right because it’s quick, easy and effective. That’s how the app spread like wildwire.
Dating Apps Vs The Real Life
Lets face it: going up to a girl and telling her you find her pretty or you like her is a hard puzzle to crack. I’ve had my fair share of embarrasing moments of telling a girl I like her only to have her say she’s not interested. It hurts, but at the same time, it helps you grow as a human.
The problem, however, comes from the fear of rejection.
This is where the idea of dating apps come up. If you swipe right on a girl and she doesn't immediately swipe right back to you, you have so many other options to go through. Maniacal? Probably. Effective? Hell yes. There’s no real fear of rejection because she doesn't have the time to flat out reject you and thus you can go on with your day as if nothing happened. You don’t have that option in real life.
Usually, in real life, you have to actually go up to a person and expect either an acceptance or a flat out rejection. The worst part? The rejection could be in the form of being placed in the god forbidden Friend Zone.
Modern society is so used to the concept of “not talking to strangers”, that even remotely displaying interest is a taboo. With a dating app, you’re making your intentions very clear.
In the past 10 years, meeting people through a dating app has accounted for about one-third of all modern couples. It’s not a weird fad anymore, it’s a legitimate business.
With that being said, the majority of people still end up meeting from an initial face to face encounter. This could be either from a friend/coworker/family member, or it could be from an event you attend. This has been the “golden standard” of meeting people before dating apps became mainstream.
I’ve had the time to talk with many couples to ask exactly how they met and the responses, beyond dating app responses, have been pretty amazing to be honest. Some poeple told me they’ve met their significant other via a freak encounter at their band practice, while others have told me they met their spouse by randomly making out with them at a work party. Like I said, the majority still end up meeting their “partners in crime” by random or by a set term of events. It just feels unusually natural.
It’s not that dating apps don’t have that random spontineity as an encounter from a random event. It’s just that dating apps rely on a strange “trust” in the other person to not be a complete creep before even meeting them.
Are we doomed for a bleak future in dating?
That would really depend on how you look for people in the dating world. Aziz Ansari in the novel “Modern Romance”(What a coincidence), suggests that the best way to meet significant others is actually putting your phone down and going to places to meet people. Whereas, every “pickup artist” and “dating guru”, would suggest keeping all your options open, regardless of the outcome.
Personally, I’d recommend a combination of both.
The best way to be yourself and meet a lot of people in the process is by using everything you bring to the table and amplifying it. I mean, use dating apps and make your account good. But also go outside and meet people in person(you don’t even have to have the intention of trying to be romantic), more or less trying to get to know them. You’d be genuinely surprised at the results. You’ll meet people you might even form close friendships or even meet the love of your life through. I personally know people who are married who’ve met via online dating (OkCupid FTW) and I’ve also met people who’d gotten married from just accidentally meeting at a train stop and getting to know each other. Hell, I know people who’ve meet through a dating app that instead ended up becoming business partners.
Modern Romance isn’t about meeting people by just pure coincidence(most likely), but by a large set of circumstances that may or may not be under your control.
So to answer the question of whether or not the future of dating is bleak? If you feel that the only way to meet people is through dating apps or through only meetings set up by random people, then yes, it is pretty bleak. But if you choose to accept that there are so many opportunities to meet people via the internet and through others, or even an accidental event? Then the future of romance is already here and it can’t wait for you. Good luck fellow romancer.